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Quaker Valley girls hoops team defense steps up

| Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014, 9:12 p.m.

It's rare that a 13-point loss could be considered encouraging.

But for the Quaker Valley girls basketball team, last Thursday's 43-30 home loss to Section 5-AAA leader South Park was a sign of how far the team has come this season.

On Dec. 19, Quaker Valley (6-9) traveled to South Park and lost by 48 points. This time around, things were different.

“They're a good team, but we set the tone right from the beginning,” coach Jill Brumbaugh said. “Once we realized we could stop them, it was a big confidence boost for the girls.

“They worked really hard. Everybody played well.”

Throughout the season, the Quakers have been solid on the defensive end of the floor. They've allowed the opposition to score more than 50 points just three times all year.

South Park racked up 76 points in its first meeting with Quaker Valley but found that baskets were much harder to come by the second time around.

“We've really picked up our defense,” Brumbaugh said. “We've been rebounding well, but we need to take care of the ball a little bit better and cut down on our turnovers.”

Quaker Valley's offense — as it has been for much of the season — is still a work in progress, according to Brumbaugh.

“We need to get that mentality that everybody has to score,” Brumbaugh said. “If we can get more balanced scoring, the other team can't focus on one person.”

Junior guards Karen Pugh and Kayla Foster have provided most of the scoring output for the Quakers. Pugh is averaging 15.6 points, and Foster has been netting nearly 13 per night.

Foster missed some game action recently with ankle and back injuries, but she returned to the lineup against South Park.

“Kayla really runs our team,” Brumbaugh said.

Freshman forward Alana Davidson has been chipping in offensively to the tune of 14.4 points.

Quaker Valley began the week with a 3-6 record in section play, which was good for a fifth-place tie with Keystone Oaks. The top four teams in each section earn WPIAL postseason berths.

In all likelihood, the Quakers will have to win their final three section games to have any chance of qualifying for the WPIAL playoffs.

First up in that quest to win out was a Monday night road game at South Fayette, a team that beat the Quakers by a single point Jan. 2. The results of Monday's game were not available at press time.

“Nothing matters unless we beat South Fayette,” Brumbaugh said. “We're not thinking about anything else.

“Hopefully after that, we can move on.”

The Quakers may find themselves in the playoffs at season's end, but even if they don't qualify, Brumbaugh is encouraged by the consistent improvement she's seen in her team from the start of practice until now.

“The girls are starting to get comfortable and know their roles,” Brumbaugh said. “We're going in a good direction.”

Quaker Valley will host Keystone Oaks on Thursday then travel to Moon on Feb. 6 to wrap up section play. Both games are slated for 7:30 p.m. starts.

Kevin Ritchart is a freelance writer.

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